Don’s Dynamite – September 2018

trust – noun- firm belief that someone or something is reliable, true, or able to do something….’ [source – Oxford English dictionary]

It is perhaps just a sign of the times, but however you look at it trust, or perhaps more so the lack of trust, is almost now all consuming in its march towards an insane baseness of values such as trust, respect and honesty.

Those who were once considered to be pillars of society by many are now just a sad decaying remnant of their former esteem. The reasons that trust no longer exists or has been significantly diminished should be clear to anyone taking an interest in the world around us.

We are almost daily regaled with an out-pouring of events and incidents dealing with banks, the superannuation industry, churches, police, government and charitable organisations in care of children which have served to erode further the already fragile and significantly diminished standing of some of these organisations.

Growing up in the mid to latter part of the twentieth century, it was a given that you respected the police, you almost believed what you read in the newspaper or saw on television and you accepted without question that the Churches were all about good and, more importantly, doing good for those in need.

So, let’s just take a look at a few of those organisations and what has brought us to where we are today.

The Police – I grew up with the belief and understanding that the police were there to protect us and that they could be relied upon without question should I be in danger and in need of protection. That was a given.

Well, years practising Criminal Law changed all of that. Then along came the Fitzgerald Inquiry which laid bare the reasons why trust in our police was, at that time, not well deserved.

To make such a sweeping statement does not justly record the position of those honest and diligent police officers who remained aloof from those who were corrupt, dishonest and not deserving of our trust.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry was a game changer – but like all severe shocks to our systems – the passage of time dulls the memory and there are, no doubt, many in society now who don’t remember the outcome of the enquiry or don’t even know that there was a Fitzgerald Inquiry into our police force.

Like enquiries have been carried out in other States with perhaps mixed results.

So, in light of current inquiries into other institutions it might just be time to have another review of our police force and see how it has been doing since the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

The Banks – for those who have not kept abreast of the comings and goings of the Banking Royal Commission, then it’s time to come out from where you might be hiding under your bed and catch up.

What the inquiry has found is that the practices of the banks have been for the most part scandalous. We can all guess, perhaps even dare to hope, that the banks were intent on providing better service and better financial outcomes for their customers. Well of course if you were to hold that view then you would be wrong – sadly wrong – wrong in plain and simple terms.

The banks when confronted with the facts of their mis-conduct have acted as anyone caught red-handed might. They simply fessed up – not only fessed up to the odd dishonesty but to hundreds of acts of dishonesty with the sole sad outcome of making increased profits. Their behaviour has been truly shocking and in epic proportions equalled only by their profits.

By the way, this is the big end of town and it’s the big end of town that the Federal Government wanted to reward with a large reduction in the company tax rates. A benefit which would be bestowed on the banks by a grateful government for paying tax [assuming that is the case], tax paid from the moneys taken from each of us who deal with the banks.

I guess that most, if not all of us, would be more than willing to have someone else pay our taxes. Anyway, this has not been an issue for the banks, which have spent lots of time and humungous sums of money on advertising the fact so called, that we can trust them. Does money buy trust?

One possible outcome of the Banking Royal Commission, if we are to believe what we read in the media, is that criminal charges are being contemplated against those who have in effect stolen from their customers. We shall see……“Is that a pig I see flying past my window?”

You see, sometimes size does count. Just imagine if you as an individual had stolen from others as the banks have done. Your mailing address would include the words ‘HM Prison’ somewhere in our land of plenty.

The Churches and others – The inquiry into these organisations has revealed that on balance these are the organisations entitled to our trust.

The evidence which has been given to the inquiry of abuse has been nothing short of sickening.

But, perhaps even worse than the evidence laid bare before the inquiry, is the reluctance of some to accept responsibility for their actions or the actions of members of the organisation and to make just and immediate compensation to the victims. No need to mention any names here, is there?

When the word ‘trust’ raises its head, these organisations need to revisit the basic propositions and tenets which underpin ‘trust’ and its application and perhaps even their reason for existing in the first place.

The Media – the fourth estate – what a sorry mess this lot are.

Long gone are the days when journalists sought out the news and reported the news accurately, based on fact, with the primary purpose of informing the general public in a factual and reliable way.

Today, reporting the news bears little or no resemblance to what constituted good sound reporting years ago.

Even if we avoid making comment on the literacy skills or ethics of the current batch of journalists [with some good and noteworthy exceptions] standards of journalism have taken a back seat to more pressing matters such as viewer or reader numbers, not to mention media control.

Fair and accurate reporting of the news now seems to have given way to sensationalism and comment. Something each and everyone of us sees on a daily basis.

Each media outlet [perhaps apart from the ABC] sets out to claim an exclusive or something more sensational than the other media outlets are able to provide. Accuracy and fairness are just mere casualties of this style of ‘news reporting’ until their fickle minds turn to the next story and the next victim to use as a platform to increase their readership.

Then we are subjected to gratuitous comment by the news reader or journalist as if what they actually believe or assert into the story is worthy of our consideration simply because they say it is so.

For those of us intelligent enough to understand the report ourselves, even allowing for sensational and biased reporting, this form of reporting is insulting to the intelligence of the average listener or reader. I for one can make up my own mind as to whether or not an event is ‘terrible’, a ‘rip off‘ or worse. I don’t need to be told this by the smartie on the little screen or in the pathetic offerings which now pose as newspapers, replete with spelling and grammar, which would make a sensible Grade 5 pupil cringe.

No wonder a former Prime Minister described one television channel as being guilty of ‘….cheque book journalism, foot in the door journalism……….and worse. A carbunckle……………’

So, understanding what trust is and what it achieves are matters for those who have failed to contemplate how, if at all, the trust factor can be regained.

For those who have failed us, for those who have abrogated their responsibilities and for those who have generally failed in the most basic way, it is a truism that trust is something to be earned, it is not something which is of necessity easily earned.

Trust equals Respect and vice versa and we all crave trust and respect, but then we must remember too that our actions speak louder than words and this should always be foremost in our minds.

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.